Melbourne Water flood review lets Labor Government off the hook, Greens propose separate inquiry


The Victorian Greens will push for a parliamentary inquiry into last year’s Maribyrnong River floods when Parliament returns, to close the gaps left open by the Melbourne Water review.

The Greens’ say their proposed inquiry would have a particular focus on the 2007 decision to approve the construction of a flood wall around Flemington Racecourse, despite Council and community protest.

It would seek to explore whether vested interests, like those of the Victorian Racing Club, influenced that decision, and whether the growing impacts of climate change were considered before the wall’s approval.

It would also seek to look at whether the SES has sufficient resources to deal with these increased extreme weather events, whether early warning systems are adequate, and whether flood walls that protect vested interests like the VRC should continue to exist.

While Melbourne Water is currently undertaking its own review of last year’s floods, its terms of reference are too narrow in scope and completely exclude policy responses and planning matters, which has left the affected communities deeply disappointed.

Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said such a limited review was convenient for the Labor Government who wanted to avoid blame or criticism, but that the community deserved a proper inquiry.

She said the Greens’ proposed inquiry would be undertaken by the Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee, and shine an overdue light on Labor’s cosy relationship with the racing and gambling industry, our broken planning system, and whether the government could be doing more to protect the community from growing climate disasters and their impacts.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

“Last year areas of Kensington and Maribyrnong were under metres of water while the Flemington Racecourse was kept largely dry by a flood wall, pushed through by a Labor Government at the expense of the community and against the wishes of Council.

“The flood wall around the dry racecourse, while homes went under water, demonstrates very clearly who the government is willing to protect and who gets left behind when it comes to climate change. 

“This kind of thing can’t be allowed to continue, and the community are rightly outraged that the Labor Government seems to want to sweep this under the carpet.

“I’m worried the Labor Government is using this limited inquiry to deflect blame, and avoid any discussion of what governments have done wrong or should do better. With disasters like floods becoming more common with climate change, the community deserves a proper inquiry into how we can protect lives, livelihoods and homes during climate disasters, rather than just protecting vested interests.

“We urgently need a broader-ranging inquiry into these floods to explore how a decision like this could have been made in the first place, and so we can avoid it happening again. Governments must do better when it comes to increasingly frequent climate disasters.”